Sarah Wayne Callies knew her death scene on AMC’s hit zombie drama, The Walking Dead, was going to be challenging.
“It was an interesting day because IronE [Singleton] died that morning, so my whole focus for the morning was dealing with my friend and colleague,” Callies told TV Guide. “It was difficult because Chandler [Riggs] and I hadn’t really rehearsed the scene beforehand because, in a way, we’ve been preparing for this scene for two and a half years.
“I came out of the set in rehearsal and virtually the entire cast stopped by just to be there. I didn’t know they were coming—we all did that for Jon [Bernthal, who played Shane]—but for some reason I just wasn’t thinking about it and it was really moving to look out there. Andy [Lincoln] and Norman [Reedus] were a little bit freaked out by the delivery. They’ve both got kids and I came out after we shot a couple of takes of that and they both looked green and were kind of shaky. I took it as a compliment.”
Callies and Lincoln shared several scenes over the last few episodes that would serve as Lori and Rick’s last moments together and she said that “the hardest thing about shooting that scene was not making it about that. Lori and Rick don’t know that they’re not going to see each other again. Andy and I built all of the work we did together for the whole third season around that scene. We’re not going to look at each other and he’s going to reach out and just put his hand on my shoulder. And that’s the moment where you go, ‘they would have been OK.’ It’s a part of why that moment means so much to Lori.”
The actress has formed a significant bond with Lincoln. “I love Andy Lincoln, Andy Lincoln is going to be in my life for the rest of my life, but I’m never going to lay eyes on Rick Grimes again,” Callies said. “We shot the scene, barely got through it and then we just met in the middle of the field and collapsed into each other for a second.”
The entire cast and crew of The Walking Dead were dedicated to creating a supportive environment. “It’s a culture on set unlike any other set that I’ve ever been on,” Callies admitted. “We built a community and we did it consciously. Andy, Jon, and I were the first actors in town, we spent every weekend together, all of our free time going over the scripts and finding a way to work together. As more actors came into town, we brought them into that. If we’re going to do a zombie show, then we all run the risk of falling flat on our faces. The only way we can do it well is by having a really safe environment so we can take big risks, look like an a–hole and fail. That is the hardest thing to create.”